aka: Hell Hole
Director: Pierre De Moro
Starring: Ray Sharkey, Judy Landers, Marjoe Gortner, Richard Cox, Edy Williams
Captives… stripped naked, forced to submit to The Ultimate Experiment!
Hellhole starts out with an upset mother and her grown daughter (Susan, played by the lovely Judy Landers) talking in a kitchen. They have some sensitive documents in their possession which the mother is planning to take to the cops. While the daughter takes a shower a thug with a bad hairdo named Silk gets into the house and starts to push and threaten.the mother to give up the papers. He ends up choking the mother to death just as the daughter is done with the shower and she runs for her life. The thug goes after her and they end up in a construction yard where she falls down several meters and the thug assumes she’s dead, but she’s not. She is badly injured and with amnesia so she’s sent to a psychiatric hospital.
The patients who behave badly at this place gets taken to an own block that’s named Hellhole where they get used as guinea pigs for Dr. Fletcher, a tall evil woman with masculine traits and her colleague Dr. Miles. Their goal with these experiments is to perform “chemical lobotomy” to cure the patients of their mental problems. The problem of this “cure” is that the patients all end up worse than before… or even dead.
Our lovable Silk gets a haircut (another bad one I might add) and is sent to intimidate Susan and to get ahold of the sensitive papers that his boss wants. While intimidating her, he gets interrupted by Ron Stephens who works there (unsure of what he actually does there though) and they have a confrontation filled with testosterone. Later on, Ron sneaks into Hellhole and sees one of the experiments and reports the nutty doctors to the medical board. The medical board comes to an inspection of the place but can’t find any illegal actions. Ron is upset, resigns from whatever position he has, and does whatever he can to get Susan out of the place.
Hellhole is a WIP (Women in Prison) movie in disguise without any violence, but with a lot of nudity. It seems like it can’t decide what it wants to be. If you cut the nudity out it would work as a sleazy TV movie. If you add violence and torture you would have a classic 80’s WIP movie. I guess the french director Pierre De Moro (who according to IMDB has only made two family oriented movies before Hellhole) enjoys nudity over gore and chose to deliver everything he could in that department.
The hero, Susan, doesn’t get a lot of screen time so we can get to know her very well. Same can be said about all of the other characters. De Moro introduces a lot of them (Susan, Dr. Fletcher, Ron, Silk and even a great evil ward played by the chinfull Robert Z’Dar) without giving any of them any backbone. Susan seems to be there to pace the movie along, Ron is there to be the hero and nothing else. The only character that sticks out is Silk (played by Robert Sharkey) who is an over the top bad guy. He makes a much better job than Mary Woronov as Dr. Fletcher who is supposed to be the main source of evil in the movie. She has some resemblance to Ilsa, but other than that she’s a very bland character. It would have helped more if we were told what her drive and obsession to do these heinous experiments came from. It’s hinted, not very subtle, that she’s a lesbian who enjoys this sexually but the character could use some more than just that as explanation, especially since she was the most interesting character in the film.
There is some nice settings and visuals in the Hellhole, a lot of nudity and some lesbian action (always appreciated) but other than that there is not a lot about this movie that would make you watch it again or sets this movie apart from the countless others who were produced in the 70’s and 80’s. It might be mostly enjoyable to fans of the women in prison subgenre, while for others it will probably be a waste of time. I thought it was ok to watch, it never becomes boring or annoying, so even if I’ll probably never revisit it in the future I’m still ok with experiencing Hellhole.